DALLAS – The gift of a living organ is bringing two families together in a special way. Their meeting became a reunion, of sorts, during a Sunday morning church service in South Oak Cliff.
As a small choir shouted out the words to a gospel song, people gathering inside New Life Family Baptist Church swayed from side to side while singing along.
On the second pew, church member Brenda Stuart sat holding the hand of Dr. Susie Gerik, a pediatrician from Santa Fe, Texas. It was a special moment. A tender moment. A meeting the women never expected would happen.
Gerik had a liver transplant back in 2016. The organ Gerik received came from Stuart’s 15-year-old grandson, Roy Stuart. The teen was murdered outside of an apartment complex in South Oak Cliff in October 2016.
“I told my son I wasn’t going to cry,” said Latashia Stuart, the teen’s aunt. She gave Gerik and her husband, Jerome, a huge hug as they gathered at the church.
”I think we just wanted to know that he would live on,” Latashia Stuart said. “We didn’t just want for his life to end at 15.”
Gerik and the Stuarts have been communicating for months, by text. Both sides had the option of staying anonymous. Gerik says she knew a visit had to happen.
”First of all to show my gratitude,” Gerik explained. “Also, Roy and I are sharing a body, sharing a personhood now, and I really wanted to know that family, because they are my family too now.”
Brenda Stuart raised Roy from the time he was a baby. She and the teen’s father, made the decision to donate Roy’s organs. The Stuart’s invited Gerik and her husband to church.
The women shared a tearful embrace as the met for the first time.
“Oh, my little angel,” Brenda Stuart cried as she hugged Gerik. “I miss you so much. Granny misses you so much, baby. Thank you so much for coming.”
The women agreed the spirit of Roy Stuart is being carried in by his organ recipient.
‘You couldn’t keep me away,” Gerik told the teen’s family.
”You are truly a part of my family,” Stuart replied.
Both families are now sharing the importance of organ donation.
As the choir continued inside the church singing “God is looking out for you...” Stuart and Gerik continued holding hands, showing how the gift of a liver is not linking two families.